March Madness 2012: The Saint Mary's Gaels Are Dancing in the NCAA Tournament

We’ll be doing NCAA Tournament profiles for all automatic bid conference winners leading up to Selection Sunday, for links to others, see bottom of this post.

Conference: West Coast Conference (27-5)

Location: Moraga, California

Famous Alum: Bob Ladouceur, high school football coach at De La Salle High, and baseball knuckleballer Tom Candiotti

They’re Back! St. Mary’s was last in the tournament two years ago, when they reached the Sweet 16 with a team led by Center Omar Samhan. That team upset Villanova in the second round. The Gaels have made 6 prior appearances.

Resume: A sweep of BYU, and two wins against Gonzaga. St. Mary’s lost to Baylor, Murray State, and Gonzaga among tourney teams.

Notable Player(s): Conference Player of the Year Matthew Dellavadova and Rob Jones carry this team as much as any duo in college basketball, combining to play over 70 minutes a game.

Team Style/Strengths: The team plays through Dellavadova heavily, and will spread teams, take lots of threes, but get good looks off his penetration inside as well. They are better offensively than defensively, but succeed on that end by playing conservatively, not fouling, and not giving up second chance points, which allows them to play with a shorter bench.

All-Important Rankings: 25 (RPI), 43 (Pomeroy)

Projected Outlook/Seed: St. Mary’s should fall in the 6 or 7 seed range when the selections are made, roughly in the same range as the team they just beat in overtime, Gonzaga, to win the WCC title. I don’t see them rising to a 5 but would also be surprised if they slipped to an 8 seed after winning the regular season and tournament titles.

[photo via US Presswire]

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